A shock of kaleidoscopic shapes and colour has covered the façade of one formerly bleak corner of Kings Cross. The slick, vibrant design that wraps around two sides of the Megaro Hotel and Karpo restaurant, comprises London’s biggest-ever public mural – which launched earlier this month. Wonderland spoke to Remi Rough, one of the artists involved, about inspiration, collaboration, and the social importance of British street art.
How did the Karpo project come about and who made up the collaborative team?
The project came to our attention when an art direction company called ‘The Narrative’ contacted us about painting a hotel in central London. We then started on a nine-month journey of ideas and dialogues, and began putting together the best possible team from our wonderful Agents Of Change resource. The four we chose were perfect for the end result, as we all work in abstraction. There was me (Remi/Rough from London), Augustine Kofie from LA, Steve More from Edinburgh and LX One from Paris. We bounced back the design of the mural between Paris, LA, Edinburgh and London for over three weeks before we had the design where we wanted it.
What is the inspiration behind the design?
We wanted to do something incredibly bold as it’s not everyday you get to paint, not only the biggest mural in central London, but paint it opposite the two busiest stations in London, too! So we worked with Megaro and The Narrative on the colour palette and worked all four of our various styles into one complete piece. There’s a lot of geometry in the design but due to the architecture there was a lot of thinking on our feet, so the initial design was only ever 60% of where it would end up.
Do you think public art serves to enhance the aesthetic appeal of our urban landscape, or to portray a social message?
Public art is an amazing way of getting people to not only notice but also question their environment – it can completely change an environment, too! London used to have this amazing history of public murals in the 70s and 80s, but for some reason that discipline has fizzled out. Considering how important Brits consider the British Art industry, I find that quite surprising! I think social commentary is there, regardless of what the design is. Painting on walls is an ancient pastime that still has a very important place in society. I recently went to Mexico and the history of mural art that they have is incredible – we need more of that in the UK!
What other works of public art have you been involved in? Are there any examples that you think have worked particularly well?
I’ve literally painted hundreds of public murals all over the world!! I have a huge one in Perth that I painted with some of the Agents Of Change way back in 2000, A six storey building I recently painted in Hamburg, and two sides of a five storey hotel I painted in Vancouver, Canada last year… Personally the work I did in Hamburg is one of my favourites! It works on many levels, it’s abstract and as such can be appreciated by anyone for it’s geometry and composition and also the colours are mainly primary so kids really gravitate towards it. I treat every wall I paint differently though and always strive to put original ideas onto walls.
Words: Gavin Jewkes